The day after the confirmation of New York Common Core enforcer John King as U.S. Secretary of Education has brought about a flurry of commentary about Common Core and the election.
The most parallel-universe analysis comes from Michelle Ye Hee Lee at The Washington Post, who “fact checks” Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and John Kasich on their statements on Common Core during last Thursday’s debate. Lee sets the stage for her mistaken discussion by swallowing whole the Common Core talking points — the national standards were “crafted by a bipartisan group of governors and state school chiefs representing most states,” states and localities control the curriculum, and the Obama administration appropriately used the Race to the Top (RttT) program as an incentive for states to adopt the standards.
Taking the last point first, Lee hammers Cruz — the only of these three candidates who has accurately explained the role of RttT — for claiming abuse of federal power through that program. She acknowledges that the RttT incentives to adopt Common Core were substantial, but she still claims the decision was completely voluntary.
Her analysis misses the mark in two ways. First, her claim of “voluntariness” is tenuous — in a time of deep recession, states grabbed at the “free” federal money tied to Common Core because they felt they had no other choice. Second, the RttT program especially could be characterized as an abuse of federal power because, unlike with some other federal incentive programs, the federal government has no appropriate role in education to begin with. Continue Reading